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If you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home, call the Texas State Ombudsman at 1-800-252-2412.

If you suspect elder abuse in the community, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or, better yet, file an online report at txabusehotline.org. (Also visit Elder Abuse: Who To Call for more info.)

How an Elder Lawyer can help when you suspect elder abuse

Can you do more?

With the help of an elder law attorney, you can do more than place a telephone call, file a report, and hope that everything works out for the best.

If the person abusing or exploiting the elderly or disabled person is her agent under a Durable Power of Attorney, you can work with an elder lawyer to have it revoked and a new agent appointed. If the elder or disabled person has not signed and no longer has legal capacity to sign a Durable Power of Attorney, you may need to seek guardianship.

If the elder may need to qualify for Medicaid within the next five years, an elder lawyer can help file suit to recover the money and, if the elder is already applying or ready to apply, report exploitation which affect his eligibility to the District Attorney and the Texas Attorney General.

In Texas, abuse or exploitation of an elderly or disabled person is a first-degree felony.

Can you avoid inadvertent elder abuse?

Whether in a formal or informal position of trust, we have a fiduciary duty to an elderly or disabled person: we must put their interests first. This means that an agent under a Durable Power of Attorney cannot “loan” herself money or give herself “gifts” not specifically authorized in that document. It also means that the nephew who comes over to mow the lawn should not ask his uncle to tie up his cash investing in his nephew’s business. (see Elder Abuse for more information.)

This extends to not letting someone who may need Medicaid nursing or home health care within the next five years be too generous. Doing so in the 60 months before the month of a Medicaid application is presumed to be an attempt to qualify by defrauding your fellow taxpayers – who would get to foot the bill. Grandpa may want to help you put a new roof on your house, not realizing that he may be inviting the Texas Attorney General to sue you to get the money back.

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, CELA, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

 

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